A supplement to Brown’s own charming books.

ONLY MARGARET

A STORY ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN

From the Incredible Lives for Young Readers series

Halley’s comet brightened the skies when Margaret Wise Brown was born.

Brooklyn-born Brown went on to blaze trails, too, and demonstrated her quirky personality early on, once toting a rabbit in a basket onto a train. (This rabbit became a talisman, as Brown wrote 26 books whose titles bore the words bunny or rabbit.) After her college magazine published one of her pieces, a professor urged Brown to become a writer. In 1934, she moved to New York City and took a writing course at Columbia University; losing confidence, she switched to a teacher’s college. Ultimately, Brown decided against teaching and settled on writing children’s books—then an unusual pursuit. This was “a happy accident” for both her and children’s literature. Brown traveled around the U.S. and world, eventually purchasing a house on an island off the Maine coast; she died in Nice, France, in 1952, aged 42. This simple, straightforward biography emphasizing Brown’s strong personality in lyrical language may arouse interest among Brown fans but only vaguely skims the surface. The author broaches Brown’s bisexuality by mentioning in the narrative that Brown and the female poet Michael Strange “became very close” and in the notes that she was engaged to a man. The colorful, somewhat naïve illustrations don’t attempt verisimilitude. Brown is White, as is most of the supporting cast.

A supplement to Brown’s own charming books. (author's note, timeline, partial list of Brown's books, selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5508-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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